By Victor Muyakane.
Matatu owners from the Coast region have confessed to bribing traffic police officers.
The ‘confession’ was made to the Johnston Kavuludi-led National Police Service Commission, with Said Mabrouk, Matatu Saccos’ spokesman stating that they were ‘forced’ to give the bribes on pain of unnecessary harassment, threats of malicious prosecution and inconvenience.
This is the latest controversial revelation in a slew of scandalous disclosures from previous police vetting sessions.
The revelations stunned the Kavuludi led commission, but nevertheless brought to light what was long believed to be an unspoken rule of thumb for anyone plying Kenyan roads with any kind frequency.
During the meeting between the NPSC commissioners and 38 Matatu Saccos in the coast region at the Kenya School of Government, where the police vetting exercise is ongoing, Mabrouk also revealed that apart from the hefty fines imposed on them, the police have continued to intimidate the Matatu owners.
Mabrouk also described what he termed as cartels of well-heeled and well connected Matatu owners whose Matatus were considered as ‘untouchable’, and which would break traffic rules with reckless abandon with no action taken against them.
Mabrouk lamented over the state of affairs which he says has made their business difficult, making profit hard to come by.
He points a finger of blame to the hefty bribes for what he calls suffocation of the once lucrative business.
NPSC Chair Kavuludi welcomed the revelations, terming them as crucial to the commission’s mandate of instituting police reforms.
It remains unclear what action shall be taken against the officers mentioned in the damning revelations, however, the Commission has fired several officers based on the findings from the vetting process.
The NPSC has been conducting the police vetting exercise across the country, in a bid to reform the Police Service, long plagued by corruption, incompetence, human rights violations and training among other ailments.
The vetting process has also had its share of controversy.
An anonymous source within the vetting board had earlier disclosed to the press that several officers had tried to evade the exercise by attempting to bribe the commissioners, unsuccessfully.
There have also been reports by the commissioners themselves that their lives were in danger after some commissioners were allegedly trailed.
Additionally, chairman Kavuludi has also gone on record alleging that certain disgruntled officers sent death threats to the commissioners.
Additional reporting by Ann Mburu.